With 17 seconds left and the ball just past midfield in a game tied at 20, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to his right. The five yards gained on the play, plus the 15 yards added on for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Cincinnati Bengals, were just enough to put Chiefs in field-goal range. Harrison Butker then nailed the 45-yard kick — sending the Chiefs to Super Bowl LVII.
Mahomes gives it his all for the first down!
— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2023
That Mahomes ran with the ball isn’t particularly surprising; his 358 rushing yards in the regular season were the ninth-most among quarterbacks. But after suffering a high ankle sprain last week against Jacksonville, his mobility on Sunday was limited.
In that moment, it didn’t matter. Mahomes said after the game that sometimes “you gotta just put it all on the line.” On the bum ankle, he finished with 326 passing yards, two touchdown passes, no interceptions and three rushes for eight yards, including those crucial last five.
After the game, Mahomes also said God gave him the strength to play.
“I wanna thank God, man. He healed my body this week,” he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson. “To battle through that, He gave me the strength to be out here.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) January 30, 2023
— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2023
Winning the AFC championship puts Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl for the third time in the past four years. Sunday marked the fifth consecutive conference title game the Chiefs hosted. They were beaten in that game last year by the Bengals, who had defeated Kansas City three straight times heading into Sunday.
But the Chiefs’ 23-20 victory sends them to Super Bowl LVII, where they’ll face the Philadelphia Eagles, who took down the San Francisco 49ers earlier Sunday.
To win the franchise’s third Super Bowl, the Chiefs will, as usual, rely heavily on Mahomes, who is a leading candidate for the 2022 NFL MVP award. He led the league in passing yards (5,250, a career high) and touchdown passes (41) this year.
The last time the Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl, they fell to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9, in February 2021. Before that matchup, Sports Spectrum asked Mahomes about his faith in God and how it guides him.
“It guides you as you know why you’re playing the game,” he said. “You know that obviously you want to win, but at the end of the day you’re doing it for something that’s much bigger than yourself, and you’re trying to represent something that’s much bigger than yourself. I think having that confidence and having that trust lets you go out there and be who you are and play freely.”
“When the main guy, Pat Mahomes, is a huge follower in Christ, it’s easy to be a follower as well,” running back Darwin Thompson, a former Chief, told Sports Spectrum in 2020.
“My mom and dad both raised me in the church,” Mahomes said earlier in 2020 in a video for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “Just being able to come up through the church, I built a great relationship with God and I’ve tried to keep that as I’ve gotten older. Faith is huge for me.”
Amidst all the success during his first six years in the NFL, Mahomes aims to glorify God in his actions.
“Before every game, I walk the field and I do a prayer at the goalpost. I just thank God for those opportunities and I thank God for letting me be on a stage where I can glorify Him,” Mahomes said in the FCA video. “The biggest thing that I pray for is that whatever happens, win or lose, success or failure, that I’m glorifying Him.”
His next chance to do so will be in Glendale, Arizona, at 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 12.
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